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We are just about done with the major moving of equipment around the shop. The one piece of equipment that is not ready yet is the CNC router, and I am currently running wire bundles through conduit for that (6 pieces of 6 AWG wire 66 feet long; how did this happen?). The router is almost exclusively used for deck sets, and I have a set in stock for most ships. Once I finish the wiring, the dust collection will take only a little longer and then that will be up.

In the mean time, I am catching up on the orders that came in during the shutdown and am taking new ones. I can let you know if the lack of a deck set will delay an order.

 

Thank you,

Stephen and Keri Morgret

We’re going to be shutting down manufacturing for Strike Models for the first couple of weeks in January. What does this mean?

  • Orders placed in December are not affected!
  • Orders for items that need manufacturing will be delayed until towards the end of January. This includes ship kits, cannons, superstructure, props, many resin molded items, and some decks.
  • Ready-to-ship items, such as fiberglass hulls, speed controllers, motors, will be shipped soon after the order is placed.
  • We will respond to every order and let you know if it will be shipped right away or if there will be a delay.
  • Feel free to email and ask about specific product availability.

Over the last couple of years, we’ve picked up a fair amount of new equipment that has been pressed into service without getting properly set up. In a few other cases, we have just not had time to get them set up at all. So, for the first couple of weeks  in January, we will be shutting down the manufacturing side of the business so that we can reconfigure the shop to be more efficient, easier to operate, and allow us to fill orders faster.

Thanks so much for your understanding, and have a Happy New Year!

Stephen and Keri Morgret

When it rains, it pours (so says the guy who just moved up to Seattle). We have two different regulators on their way, and they should be here around the end of the month.

The first regulator is from Genuine Innovations, for 12 and 16 gram cartridges. This regulator is about an ounce and is perfect for destroyers. I looked at this regulator almost three years ago and found a wear problem — and recently discovered that you need to use the company’s cartridges and not the ones at sporting good stores. The cartridges are a little more expensive, but not outrageous. I will stock them, but they can also be found at bicycle shops. I’ve picked up a small lot of both the 12 and 16 gram cartridges, as I am not sure which one will be sufficient for our needs.  I can only ship the cartridges ground.

And now for what all of you have been waiting for: the lightweight regulators are on their way to me right now. I will have enough of the units to supply the hobby for a while, so we won’t have to keep finding new vendors. The new regulators will be able to use both pin valve and on/off valve tanks.

Both types of regulators should be available for orders at the beginning of November.

I had been having a problem getting the Traxxas gear set for a while, and I found out why. Traxxas discontinued the Villain boats that the parts came out of. After having fun finding them in quantity, I was able to purchase the remaining Traxxas stock of those parts. This includes the mounting bracket (1521), the nylon gear (1526), as well as the various pinions. I have enough to supply the hobby for at least a year or two. By the time parts start running low, I will have had time to either find another supplier or be making my own.

We have a new hull available to order. George M has been working on the super-secret Escargo project. The result is the extremely versatile C3 cargo ship hull. The hull was based on the ship length being 495 feet long and 69 feet wide. This hull can be used for tankers, cargo ships, and aircraft carriers. It is also the very close to being the correct size for both Axis and Allied armed merchant cruisers (Q ships). The hull was extended up to make it easier to cut down to the many ways that this hull could be configured.
C3 Cargo Hull (Escargo)

The move from California to Washington has been a little arduous. It involved filling a 28 foot semi trailer AND a 16 foot rental truck. Once we got the house (which almost didn’t happen), we had to rewire the shop. The circuit breakers were almost as old as I am and I had to install a 50 hp 3-phase converter to run an injection molding machine. That is now installed, and I am getting the rest of the equipment installed and functional, as well as all of the inventory organized and shelved. I am also still getting vendors lined up for making  things like decks, hulls and superstructure.

Keri and I really appreciate your patience and support these past few months! Please drop us a line if you come visit Seattle, we’d like to have coffee and say hello!

Hi everyone,

We’ve had an exciting month so far, and unfortunately not all of it has been a good excitement.

The bottom line is that there will be a delay in orders for the next couple of months because of three different events.

First, we have had problems accessing our storage warehouse for the past week. The warehouse is nestled behind a strip mall, and one of the other tenants had a fire. We had no damage, but the city declared that the entire complex had significant electrical and structural deficiencies and put large “Do Not Occupy” signs on all of the businesses. We have been able to access the warehouse a couple of times since then and retrieve inventory, but this is slowing our ability to get some orders processed. At this time, we are not sure when we will regain easy access.

At the end of April, we will be exhibiting at RCX (an RC expo) in Long Beach, CA. We will be busy for a few days before the show as we prepare our booth.

Our final piece of news is that Strike Models is relocating to the Seattle area during May and June (we’re still finalizing the timing). Keri has accepted a full time job in downtown Seattle, and we are looking forward to becoming regular participants at the Northwest Naval Combat battles. This will involve some slow times for some orders as we relocate our inventory and equipment, and in some cases find new sources for some of our machine work. We will add a new blog post and a notice to our home page when we have more details, as well as let you know when you order if things might be delayed.

Thank you for your understanding, and we hope to see you at a battle this summer!

Stephen and Keri Morgret

I just spend the day getting an ultrasonic welder put into my shop. After a month shipping delays from multiple pallet and forklift breakages, this 1500 pound beast drove up this morning. And a beast it continued to be, as the pallets underneath had separated and one had broken. The whole thing came on its side because of the original broken pallet had caused it to be let down on one side. So, after many hours of disassembly, I had the bottom cabinet, welding head, and upper cabinet (which was is pretty bad shape from shipping) all separated so I could put everything upright. All I needed was to re-attach the wheels to the bottom cabinet  so I could put everything back together and wheel it into place. Of course, I can only find two of the fixed feet and no wheels at all. Sigh… I also find out while taking everything apart that the head assembly is mostly 1 inch thick steel. I cannot even pick up one end of it. We have to use a fork lift just to move that one part in the evening (before the chance of rain).

So why do we need this beast of a machine? There are two different cannon systems that would benefit greatly from this machine. I have been working on a flat fast gun cannon for a while that could be mostly injection molded. With the cannon shown below (with a loose tolerance 4″ barrel) the cannon was shooting a very consistent 210 to 220 fps. Here is a picture of one:
The unit ends up being about half an inch thick and the tubing seen in the picture is replaced with internal routing. The only problem is that it needed to be either solvent bonded or ultrasonically welded. Solvent bonding can be finicky for this and hard to verify if it is done properly. With ultrasonic, the welds processes are well known and strong, but the upfront cost is significant. The second reason for getting the unit was being able to embed metal items into plastic. This ability clears up one of my last problems with the big gun cannons, so I’ll be testing that out as soon as I get power connected up to the ultrasonic welder.

We are getting new flags for people to pimp their boats with. The flags are 1 x 0.75 inches and are printed such that they can be wrapped around a flagpole or a wire and so be double sided. The flags are made from an artisans canvas and have a waterproof adhesive on the back to prevent them from fraying. The flags we have available right now (as soon as the glue dries, anyway) are:
48 star US
British White Ensign
Japanese Rising Sun
German Kriegsflagge and Reich war flag
Italy
France
Naval Ensign of Austria-Hungary (1918)
Spain

Ship Flags (not yet treated to prevent fraying)

We didn’t thing about at the time, but we will also be making four different versions of the Jolly Roger flags. These flags should be coming in over the next couple of weeks along with our new T shirts.
Calico Jack Rackham
Edward England
Richard Worley
Henry Every’s bloody Jolly Roger (red flags signify that no quarter would be given)
What we were not aware of until looking it up was that the Jolly Roger was used by several different navies in WWI and WWII, though mostly with subs. The British submarine force used them extensively, though at least one British surface ship listed her kills with silhouettes on a Jolly Roger.

Props:
For a while now, we have been wanting to change the way the props are put together. Since the Swampy days, they have been put together with a solder that had a little bit of silver in them (but it was not by any means a real silver solder). We picked up an electric furnace in February and have been working with a company that specializes in brazing. The current results are that we can silver solder the props but have not worked out the process to clean them properly (they need a chemical treatment as the wire wheel won’t take care of them). We will be transitioning from the standard solder to silver solder over the coming months. Since we expect that most people want the stronger solders, we’ll be including those where we can, though they are not quite as pretty yet. If they really need to be shiny, let us know and we can still solder the old way.

Finding the scale waterline for a new model ship can be a bit of a challenge. Here is one method that will give you a close approximation of the waterline for almost any ship of any particular size. Instead of the traditional putting the scale amount of weight in the ship and floating it in a bathtub, you will be filling the ship itself with water to its scale weight.

Gather your measurements. You need the

  • weight of the empty model ship (from your own scale)
  • scale weight of the ship (see below), and (optional) +10%, -10%, and -20% of this scale weight
  • scale width of the ship (calculated from a reference book)
  • amount of water to add to the ship (see below)

For 1:144 scale models, the scale weight of the ship is the full displacement in long tons divided by 1333 to get the weight in pounds. MWCI also has an extensive ship list with the scale weights at http://mwci.org/shiplist.shtml . For other scales, use the following calculation: scale weight = (Full displacement weight in long tons)*2240/(scale^3).

To determine the amount of water to add to the ship, subtract the weight of the empty ship from the scale weight of the ship. That is the amount of water, in pounds, you need to add to the ship. Each pound is about two cups of water (one gallon of water is 16 cups, and weighs about 8.345 pounds).

You need a completely uncut hull, as we will be filling it with water.You will also need a marker or a pencil (but not a grease pencil), and shims or a way to keep the hull level if it is not a flat-bottomed hull.

  1. Use packaging tape to tape the hull width to the scale width, so the hull does not expand when you fill it with water.
  2. Find a level slab of concrete for your hull. At the top of the hull, make sure that it is level from side to side. If it is a small ship like a cruiser that does not have a flat bottom, use shims to keep the hull upright and level.
  3. Add the correct amount of water (from your calculations above) to the hull.
  4. Mark the water level in the fore, aft, and midships of the hull.
  5. If desired, change amount of water to +10%, -10%, and -20% of scale weight and mark the water level.

These markings will be very close to the desired water line when the ship is finished, but will be slightly low because the density of the fiberglass is higher than the density of the water. On an Iowa hull, the different in that water level appears to be about the difference of one pound of water added.

Example:
An Iowa class battleship has a scale weight of 44.5 pounds and the dry, uncut hull weighs about 4.875 pounds. After taping across the sides to keep the beam width at 9 inches, add 39.625 pounds of water (4 gallons and 3 quarts). The water level will be very close to the desired water line once the ship is finished.

This method of finding the waterline will not work on ships whose keels are not level with the waterline. Some destroyers are like this and there are probably others. Most of the larger ships should be OK as their keels were built on a flat and level surface.

A number of people have started using LiFePO4 (Lithium Iron Phosphate, sometimes known as LiFe) batteries in their boats due to their great power density, their light weight, and because they are so much safer than the other lithium batteries. Unfortunately, the UN and TSA (Transportation Security Administration) have not differentiated the rules between the other types of lithium batteries and Lithium Iron Phosphate batteries. As a result, LiFePO4 batteries and cells are governed by the more restrictive rules.

Under current rules (as of December 2011), small lithium ion batteries and cells (which includes LiFePO4 cells) of up to 100 watt-hours may be carried without restriction as carry on baggage only (these are considered small batteries). Batteries and cells between 100 and 300 watt-hours can have one installed in a device and two spares, again carry on only. Cells and batteries above 300 watt-hours are forbidden. Most of our batteries fall into the small battery category, as most boats I’ve seen use the larger individual cells in the 10 to 20 amp hour range which corresponds to 33 to 66 watt hours per cell. So, you can pack as many of these for personal use as carry on so long as they are made safe to prevent shorts and damage.

Part of the problem is that the TSA agents are often unaware of the regulations concerning traveling with lithium chemistry batteries. I’ve been forced to check the batteries because the TSA agents felt that the batteries would be safer there. For that reason, I would highly recommend carrying a copy of this TSA page in your luggage right along with the batteries: https://apps.tsa.dhs.gov/mytsa/cib_results.aspx?search=lithium%20battery . The page that has the specs on what constitutes a small versus large battery is on the page http://phmsa.dot.gov/safetravel/batteries. This is what TSA used to make their rules, but the TSA agents only accept rules handed down directly from TSA and their website. I’ve had them flat out tell me they don’t care what the DOT rules are. It might also be a good idea to have a printed page of http://phmsa.dot.gov/safetravel/definitions#larger_lithium_metal handy to show that the bricks we haul around are actually classified as small batteries and cells.

I hope this guide is helpful when flying with your batteries to your next model warship combat adventure.

It has been difficult for some time now to take paintball tanks on airplanes.  The TSA wants all paintball tanks to have their valves removed to remove any possibility of have a stored gas on board the plane, and they want to be able to visually see that the tank cannot hold air (not just see a pressure gauge showing no pressure). This also makes it easy for them to verify the tank cannot hold air when they screen your checked luggage without having to open your suitcase. The problem for us is that it is difficult to get the valves off without damage and a torque wrench is required to put them back on. You would also need to check with your retailer to see of removing the valve would void the warranty.

Since I usually have to fly to reach any of the fast gun games, I’ve been trying to find ways to fly with the tanks and not have to remove the valves. So far, the best method I have found is to remove the burst disk from the valveand put both in in a small, clear plastic bag along with a note saying that the burst disk has been removed and that it is impossible for the tank to hold pressure. The burst disk is the small, removable brass bolt in the side of the valve, and it is usually marked with a pressure setting such as 1.8K or 3k (for 1800 psi or 3000 psi). The disks are easily removed or replaced with a small wrench.  This is not entirely in line with TSA regulations, but the burst disks are meant to be user serviceable while the valve tops are not. While it is true that TSA will not be able to determine whether the tanks are safe via x-ray, our bags filled with warship combat gear get hand examined anyway (they don’t quite know what to make of a model ship and lots of off equipment in a golf club case!). I also make sure that the bag with the tank is visible immediately as the case is opened.

This is not a guaranteed way to keep the tank, but I’ve flown many times since using this method and my problems (from this, anyway) have gone away.

 

Stephen Morgret

Strike Models

We just got in a new batch of speed controllers, including several new brushed and brushless models. There have also been pricing changes that I think that few people would object to.

Big Gun Cannons: Please contact us if you are interested in either 2 or 3 barrel 3/16″ cannons. The first production run is well underway, but we need to find out what sizes to construct.

A new injection molded T for fast gun cannons is in rev 2 and is testing very well. With a lot of help from Bob G, we think we know what final changes need to be made. Another pin mold is being made with a slightly longer main length.

The solenoid driver is having a new spin made on its circuit board. The next rev will control up to 4 solenoid groups on two servo channels. The problem with dealing with low signal voltages coming from the receiver (a particular problem on some import radios) has been resolved once and for all.

Regulators: A prototype has been in testing in L.A., and seems to be working well. It has been sunk, frozen (a gas leak caused the bottle to freeze but the reg worked just fine) and tested with quads. The new design is a variable regulator with a built in pressure gauge and swivel elbow with a press-fit connector. The weight will be around 6 ounces.

The waterjet cutter is working. Here is a link to some of the Bismarck and Littorio superstructure parts that were just cut out. We are making some adjustment for surface finish and cut speed, but it really looks like this will be the way to go. We have a number of new superstructure kits that are coming out, as this will allow easier and more intricate pieces to be made. When cutting the superstructure foam, the parts will actually be cut from large 4×6′ sheets after being carefully nested. The new superstructures that are ready (and in some cases already partially cut out) are:

FS Dunkerque
HMS Gorgon
HMS Hood
HMS Kent
HMS Roberts
Littorio
IJN Agano
IJN Kongo
Sri Ayuthia
USS Tennessee
Landing Ship Tank

Most of our existing ships have already been converted. At the moment, the Invincible, Gloire, and Derfflinger are the only current kits (or semi kits) that are not ready.

General Construction Tips
(Original Article by Phil Sensibaugh, edited by Bill Pickl)

Begin with the end in mind. Install the systems in the proper order. Many skippers end up installing the hardware several times because they get ahead of themselves. It’s common to complete the hull and install the drive motors, only to discover that the stern cannon won’t fit in the hull because the motors are in the wrong position. The rules mandate that the cannon must be located in the same position as on the real ship. Other systems, to include the motors may be installed anywhere in the hull, so the cannon must be installed first.

Think small and think light. You can always add more weight if needed and if added late in the building cycle the weight can be placed where it is needed to accommodate balance. Keep hardware close together – pack it in, but keep it modular so it can be removed easily for maintenance. Open spaces inside your hull don’t hurt anything and allow for future flexibility. Keep hardware in the smallest space possible. Don’t spread it out in the hull just because it looks like you have extra room. There is no such thing as extra room in an RC combat warship.

Think about maintenance when building your ship. Make all systems modular and removable and never install any component of you ship hardware permanently in the hull. For instance, don’t glue the cannon down to the bottom of the hull thinking that you’re saving time and likewise with other hardware. Sooner or later you will have to remove it for maintenance. Think ahead. Think simple. Make repairs easy and timely.

Build modular systems to make life simple. A warship has many operating systems to include motors and drive gear, pump, weapons, flotation, electrical and pneumatic plumbing, to name the predominate systems. Such a maze of hardware, electrical wiring, and plumbing can baffle even an experienced modeler on first glance. To keep it all manageable just consider each system as a stand-alone item, and build it accordingly. Use quick disconnect fittings on CO2 lines and connectors on electrical wiring. When you look at your ship don’t view it as a maze of components, but as a group of independent systems. Remember that each system by itself is really pretty simple and with some common sense you can figure it out, but if you build your boat so systems can be isolated trouble shooting becomes that much easier. This means that during construction you must avoid “daisy chaining” systems together and build each system as a stand-alone item. Bundle the wires together and put a cable tie around them to make it look neat and take up less space. Cut off any excess wiring (shorten wires as needed), but allow a couple of inches of extra wire for future service. Do likewise with the pneumatic plumbing. Following these steps will make your boat a lot easier to work on. For instance, if a motor fails and is isolated the rest of your systems will still be operational. Whereas the opposite is having your whole system go down without any idea of where the problem occurred would take a long time to diagnose and fix.

Keep weight low in the boat. If you have ever stood up in a canoe or watched what happens when someone does you will appreciate this advice. The key to a stable weapons platform is keep all possible weight below the waterline and minimizing the weight of anything located above the waterline. Lie batteries flat on the bottom of the hull keeping total mass of batteries below the waterline. Mount cannon low in the hull and extend barrel riser tubes to proper barrel height, don’t raise the whole cannon. A low center of balance is imperative to achieve ship stability.